The unconditional love of a father is a powerful force in the the life of a child. Sadly many of the children that we serve at Legacy of Hope have never experienced the blessing of a safe and loving father.
As we celebrate Father’s Day this year I wanted to share the personal reflections of one our Legacy of Hope foster fathers who has been a father to many children over the last several years. Not only has he been an example to them but his involvement in their lives has been fundamental in helping children to heal, learn to give and receive love and to understand that their preciousness is not based on what they do but rather who they are as his son. I have witnessed first hand how lives have been changed due to the profound impact of a father’s love.
A father can make the difference.
“I have not come across anything more mundane and yet so deeply impactful as being a parent. Day after day, how my kids require me to be present, to be intentional, to be careful (care-full) has stretched me to my limits of patience and perseverance. But I have yet to experience an occasion where it was not worth the effort.
I have had the pleasure to witness the impact that a father can have on a child’s life. I have been a foster parent for only a few years and have had the opportunity to be father to 6 foster children and one biological child. By being their family, we knew that we could give these children a great start to their lives physically, emotionally, and relationally. This is something that they unfortunately would not have had otherwise. Experiencing the joys of early fatherhood, being able to do kangaroo care to many different infants was a special experience and to see them grow and develop to be healthy little boys and girls is such a blessing.
In the spring of 2020, we received our oldest placement yet, the 6-year-old, biological brother of one of our current foster-babies. He had experienced significant trauma and abuse in his past and that manifested in many difficult behaviors. But this was his first experience in a family and his first experience with a father. Now this wasn’t a spontaneous change in him, and it wasn’t something that we could see at any given moment. But over the course of those months, he began to open up to physical contact, he began to express himself and his needs and the difficult times became less so and with more time between them. It was a special opportunity to be able to show him a family and to see how he took to his role as brother and son. The love we were able to give him as parents was unique and transformative. In a matter of months he began to understand the love his family has for him and it showed. I will quote from a newsletter my wife wrote.
“…his psychologist just told me that at their session last week, he smiled and hugged her spontaneously. She cried. This is the first time in all these years working with him that he has ever done that. He told her, “I like hugs now.”
He also told her that he has nightmares that someone comes and takes him away and that makes him cry, ‘but Tyler tells me I’m safe and hugs me and that helps me go back to sleep.’
After just months of living in a family, he has made so much progress in healing. It is such a blessing to witness.”
May this be an encouragement to all fathers and male mentors. You are filling a need that every child has. I have witnessed the hole that exists when a child is fatherless and above that, I have witnessed the healing and growth that a father can promote in a child. You are appreciated and your patience and perseverance will pay dividends”
If you are reading this and have stepped into the life of a child as a father or mentor we thank and honor you today. If you, like many of the children we serve, haven’t had the blessing of a safe and loving father I want to encourage you that while there is no such thing as a perfect father, you do have a perfect heavenly father and He loves you unconditionally. You are valued and precious in His eyes. He has created you for a purpose and He will never leave you fatherless. You only need to seek Him and He will reveal Himself to you.
Having safe and loving father is linked to better outcomes for children on nearly every measure of a child’s wellbeing but we don’t need a scientific report to tell us what we can clearly see with our own eyes. The love, support and encouragement of a father is life-changing. We are so grateful for all our Legacy of Hope foster fathers. Everyday they show up to do the hard work of loving children who struggle to trust because of the trauma and loss they have suffered, but with the power of their presence these loving fathers are changing lives.